TAKE ACTION - HOW TO GIVE HOPE
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We are hope-based people. There has never been a person born on this planet that does not need hope. While no one can point to a specific part of our anatomy or DNA and say, “there’s where hope lives” it’s still a vitally important need that we all experience.
No matter what you’ve experienced, no matter what you’ve done, no matter what’s been done to you, you have a unique gift of hope. You might think it’s small, you might believe it to be insignificant, you might question whether it’s enough.
You might look at other people and only dream about the hope they have. How they are gifted and overflowing with hope. They seem to always have just the right words, connecting with just the right people, at just the right time. They are hope superheroes in your eyes.
But there are people all around you who need your specific, unique message of hope and encouragement. The hope you have is exactly what someone if desperately in need of.
No one can take your place when it comes to giving hope. Your hope DNA is so special. Others might say similar words, but your unique personality, experiences, failures, successes all put you in a position to give the kind of encouragement that has your hope personality and fingerprints all over it.
So, how can you share your hope? Here are ten steps and tips to start with. You should think of them like a recipe; try them one at a time and then adjust them to suit your own taste buds. Use them, personalize them to fit your personality, make them your own.
Step 1 – Hopeful Assumptions
When you meet someone, what’s your assumption about them? And what markers do you use to come to these conclusions?
We are not to reflect on the wickedness of men but to look to the image of God in them, an image which, covering and obliterating their faults, an image which, by its beauty and dignity, should allure us to love and embrace them.
Our initial, out-of-the-gate assumption is to be positive, seeing them as valuable. When we look at other people, we are to look for their beauty and dignity. We are to be drawn to love and embrace them.
Tip – Start where you are. Don’t wait to try giving hope until you’ve mastered Step 1 perfectly. Retraining our thoughts and assumptions may be a life-long effort. So, start getting better with Step 1 and move on.
Step 2 – Hopeful Acceptance
No matter who they are, what they’ve said or done, they are no worse than us. No matter who we are, what we’ve said or done, we are no better than them.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Declaration of Independence
We are all equal; no better, no worse. And in the light and spirit of this truth, we can open up our hearts, mouths, and lives with hopeful words and listening ears.
Tip – The show starts with you. Don’t wait for someone else to reach out to you. Be the hopeful kind of person who reaches out first.
Step 3 – Hopeful Listening
Our assumption is that to give hope, we’ve got to say something. But more important than our hopeful words is the beautiful and gracious gift of listening.
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.
When we listen, without saying a word we loudly tell them that they are important. We shout that they have value to us, to themselves, to their family, community, nation. As we take in their words, even if we disagree with what they are saying, you are more than giving them a compliment. You are making a huge deposit of hope in their soul.
Tip – While we listen with our ears, be certain to “listen” with your eyes. Look into their eyes with compassion. Receive what they are saying even if it does not exactly line up with what you believe.
Step 4 – Hopeful Posture
This is called having an “open posture. Don’t fold your arms, clench your fists, fold your legs, sit sideways, or appear stiff. Open your hands towards them, lean in slightly, relax and breath while they are talking. Nod your head slightly and gently every so often.
Listening without bias or distraction is the greatest value you can pay to another person.
It is possible to be listening with your ears but give the impression that you are a million miles away with your posture. When you listen with your entire self, even your posture and body, you go all out at telling people that they are important to you.
Tip – Listen to them the same way you want to be listened to. Turn off or ignore your cell phone and other people.
Step 5 – Hopeful Steps
There is no way to immediately tell or show someone of their importance or hope. It’s going to take small steps, taken one at a time, over time. Hope is built one hopeful encounter at a time, one connection at a time, one hopeful message at a time.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.
There will also be repetition: you will need to repeat the same hopeful message over and over again. Just like we need to hear that we are loved and valued, so the message of hope must be repeated.
Tip – It will be easy to become frustrated if they need reassurance and hope brought to them over and over. Remember, they didn’t loose their hope all at once, loosing hope take time, and so does rebuilding hope. One step at a time.
Step 6 – Hopeful Action
Hopeful words are important, they are the icing on the cake. But hopeful actions are at the core, the foundation to restoring hope. Hopeful actions are those little things that practically and physically demonstrate your hope for someone. It can be as simple and small as a smile, a kind gesture, a hopeful word or two.
Talk is cheap. Words are plentiful. Deeds are precious.
H. Ross Perot
Hope is not built by moving mountains. Hope is built one stone at a time, one action at a time. Hopeful actions, no matter how small are precious in the sight of the one receiving them. They are also highly valued by God.
Tip – Hope can be achieved by pointing them in the right direction and encouraging someone to just take the next step.
Step 7 – Hopeful Appreciation
Hopeful words and actions are important in communicating hope to people. But you must also express hope to them as a person. Not for what they’ve done or might do, what they’ve said or might say. We need to express our appreciation to people for who they are.
A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.
When we offer hope to people, just the way they are, exactly who they are, it releases hope and energy inside. No more needing to perform to earn appreciation but energized from within to actively live out their hope to those around them.
Tip – Don’t appreciate something that people don’t control (God-given gifts like being beautiful, smart) but appreciate what they’ve done with the gifts they have received (hard work, endurance through a tough time, achievement of a task or goal.)
Step 8 – Hopeful Questions
Perhaps the most important skill on your hope toolbelt is asking questions. When you ask a question, you immediately show that you don’t have all the answers, that you humbly need help and hope just like they do. In my book, a good question is worth ten great answers.
The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by the answering.
If you don’t know what to ask, you can always ask “How does that make you feel? And the great thing about this question is that there are no wrong answers. No matter how they feel, whether you think it right or not, it’s still how they feel.
Tip – Avoid “yes/no” questions like the plague!
Step 9 – Hopeful Direction
Hopeful words and actions are terrific. But sometimes hope also needs to point someone in a direction. This is especially true if the person needs something more than you are equipped to deliver. While I’m a very positive and hopeful encourager, I am not the person you want health advice from. I can help fill your hope tank, but I’m lousy at helping people with deep emotional needs. In both these cases, I need to admit my weakness, point them in the right direction, and encourage them to get help.
The right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge.
When you meet people needing hope that seems outside your wheelhouse, don’t jump right in. Take a breath, start with some Hopeful Listening. Ask some Hopeful Questions. And then move forward.
Tip – Do not underestimate the power and effect of pointing someone in the right direction. It helps them avoid problems, wasting time and energy so they can
Step 10 – Hopeful Connection
Most people you are going to offer hope to will only be faround for a short time. But there will be some that you will build and develop a long-lasting Hopeful Connection with. These precious relationships will grow over time as you accept them right where they are. Hopeful Connections deepen as you continue to transition from offering hope to exchanging hope.
When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.
Rather than being a drain, these precious few Hopeful Connections will energize and empower you. They will become a resource that you run to when your hope tank runs low.
Tip – Everyone cannot become a Hopeful Connection. If you try, you’ll wind up burning yourself out as well as burning up your connections.